After two months of waiting, Google finally announced that the Page Experience Update rollout is now complete. The gradual rollout started on June 15, 2021, and was supposed to be finished by the end of August 2021 but was delayed for a few days.
The announcement was made on the official Google Search Central Twitter account. Google said that Page Experience is now live for both search and Top Stories mobile carousel.
An email was also sent out informing webmasters about the expansion of non-AMP web content in Google News. This means that AMP pages are not required anymore to appear in Google News. This change will be completed “in a week or so” according to Google.
Assessing the impact of Page Experience
I’ve been closely monitoring the search volatility since the update started rolling out in June and I didn’t find any clear signs that Page Experience caused volatility in search. There were some fluctuations during this time but I would say they were more attributed to the June 2021 broad core algorithm update, July 2021 broad core algorithm update, and the Search Spam Algorithm update.
While some braced for its impact, many believed it will not give major ranking advantages. In a Twitter thread last March, Martin Splitt said that the Core Web Vitals, signals included in Page Experience, may only give a “tiny advantage”.
This may be true considering the Core Web Vitals are only a part of the whole update. It was also communicated by John Mueller in a Reddit thread that Page Experience is not as important as relevancy in search but it is also more than a tie-breaker.
According to John Mueller:
“It is a ranking factor, and it’s more than a tie-breaker, but it also doesn’t replace relevance.
Depending on the sites you work on, you might notice it more, or you might notice it less. As an SEO, a part of your role is to take all of the possible optimizations and figure out which ones are worth spending time on. Any SEO tool will spit out 10s or 100s of “recommendations”, most of those are going to be irrelevant to your site’s visibility in search. Finding the items that make sense to work on takes experience.
The other thing to keep in mind with core web vitals is that it’s more than a random ranking factor, it’s also something that affects your site’s usability after it ranks (when people actually visit). If you get more traffic (from other SEO efforts) and your conversion rate is low, that traffic is not going to be as useful as when you have a higher conversion rate (assuming UX/speed affects your conversion rate, which it usually does). CWV is a great way of recognizing and quantifying common user annoyances.”
So, what now?
Personally, I think that having good Page Experience scores is great but at the end of the day, it’s just a part of a larger pie of Google’s algorithm. I believe that it goes hand in hand with other signals and SEOs shouldn’t expect huge ranking leaps after improving Page Experience scores.
This is backed up more by SEMRush’s study: 2021 Core Web Vitals Update: Assessing the Initial Impact. According to their findings, they observed that websites they analyzed had an overall increase in Page Experience scores for both mobile and desktop. However, they didn’t see any significant difference in organic search before and after the update started rolling out. I highly recommend that you read this study.
How to optimize for Google’s Page Experience Update
Google gave ample time to SEOs and website owners to start optimizing for Page Experience before it was rolled out as a ranking factor but many still haven’t fully grasped the concept thus, unable to optimize their websites for it. If you’re still a bit lost on where to start optimizing your website for this update, I’ve listed here some resources on each of the factors under the Page Experience update to get you going.
Core Web Vitals
- Complete Core Web Vitals Guide
- How to Optimize Largest Contentful Paint
- How to Optimize Cumulative Layout Shift
- How to Optimize First Input Delay
- The SEO Hacker Mobile Optimization Checklist
- How to Become Mobile-Friendly for Google’s Major Index Divide
- Google’s Guide on Mobile-Friendliness
No Intrusive Interstitials
- What are intrusive interstitials and how do they affect SEO?
- How to Use Pop-Ups Without Negatively Affecting your SEO
What to expect moving forward
It is important to note that as of writing, it has only been a few days since the rollout was completed. As more websites adopt and improve their Page Experience scores, we should have more data on the actual impact of having better scores than competitors in the following months.
It doesn’t stop here. Google may decide to add or remove signals in the future similar to how they removed Safe Browsing even before the rollout was finished. Google has also said in their documents that one of the main signals, the Core Web Vitals, will continue to evolve as they find new ways to better measure user experiences on the web.
For now, I think that the best course of action is to continuously improve your website’s scores. It’s not every day we can actually measure one of Google’s ranking factors and we should take advantage of that. By optimizing for Page Experience, you lose nothing but there is a high chance of gaining something. You should also think of it as a long-term investment. If there are no drastic changes to your website for a while, your website would probably maintain its scores and will allow you to focus on other optimizations.